Note: This is a guest post, courtesy of Dan Baldwin and his Writing Tip of the Week. To visit and subscribe, see http://www.fourknightspress.com/.
I knew a screenwriter wannabe who was so dedicated to writing the perfect script that he’s probably never gotten around to writing it.
Before starting the script he studied creative writing. He then studied screenwriting. To familiarize himself with the techniques of filmmaking he took a course in videography. And then a course in film editing. Directing came next. That was 25 years ago and I’ll bet he still hasn’t finished his script.
I’ll also bet that he’ll never finish that script. His excuses are probably numerous and seemingly logical, but the real reason he fails at writing is simple: he doesn’t treat his writing as a job.
Yes, writing is an art form. Writing is a creative process. Writing is also a job. You’ll get more writing and better writing done if you treat it that way.
What does that mean?
It’s pretty basic.
1. Show up to work every day. If you’re a full-time writer, set a schedule and stick to it. If your writing is an avocation, find the time slots you can use for writing and make sure you use those time slots to finish the job at hand.
2. Write when you have the flu. Or when the car breaks down. Or when your cousin Ed andhis team of brats come for a weeklong visit. Writing has to be a priority. Otherwise it’s just playtime.
3. Don’t “go home” early. Whatever writing schedule you develop, stay with it. Don’t abandon the workplace just because you can. Besides, what better way to escape Ed an’ the brats than moving into your writing room for a few hours?
4. Writing is a career. Think long-term success.
5. Think paycheck. Professional writers work for money and expect money in return for their labor. Amateurs who write for praise from friends and family or for the satisfaction of seeing their words on paper also write for remuneration. Accept that fact and do your best to earn your rewards. No slacking even if you’re writing “just for the fun of it.”
6. Constantly improve your job skills. One of the best and most profitable days of my life occurred when it finally hit me that I don’t know it all. Practice your craft. Improve your skills.
7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes, I know you’re a writer and you have to sweat blood to practice your craft. You may even be one of those unfortunates who have to suffer for your craft, but every now and then give it a break. Writing is a job and there is a time to struggle with it, a time to celebrate it, a time to mourn it… and a time to just laugh at it.
Enjoy the laugh.
And then get back to work.
Quote of the Week: “A man’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.” Friedrich Nietzche
Recommended Reading: Closing the Deal on Your Terms by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
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